Friday, January 27, 2017

In the Image of God

What will you talk about with your kids at the dinner table tonight?

Would you consider talking about what it means to be made in the image of God?*

Today is the day of the pro-life rallies in Washington DC and around the country. They won't get as much press coverage as recent marches have because they don't fit the belief system of the media. But they are happening and thousands and thousands of people will take part.

I can't go, but here's why I am prolife:

I believe all people, born and pre-born,
 are made in the image of God.

What it means to be made in the image of God:
  • Each and every one of us are created by God and have worth because of Him
  • We are relational because God is relational
  • We have a morality, an absolute sense of right and wrong because God is holy
  • We have an intelligence because God is all knowing
  • We are to represent God here on earth as His image, His art piece here on earth
  • Cursing one another is a sin against God Himself
  • Taking the life of another human is a sin against God Himself
Take time today to pray with your family for our country. Not only for the pro-life hopes, but for our leaders to be saved, the people in our government to do God's will whether or not they realize it, for Christians to be outstanding testimonies, for the Word of God to go forth.

And flood your social media with March for Life pictures and hashtags! We can stand up and be noticed too.


* Suggested discussion questions for your family:

  • How does the Bible say we are made?
  • Who did God make us like?
  • How are we like Him?
    • Do we look like Him?

    • Do we have His special powers?
    • Can we act like Him?
    • Can we have the same qualities as Him?
    • Do we relate to others like Him?
  • If God made us in His image, how do you think He wants us to behave?
  • If people are made in the image of God, with many of the characteristics of God, what does God think about each one?
  • How should we then treat other people?
  • What things would be wrong to do to other people?
  • What things would be right to do to other people?

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    Monday, January 23, 2017

    Groundhog Day

    Groundhog day is a day to be celebrated! Why? Well, because as annoying as it can be to a person trying to keep a nice lawn to have a groundhog around, they are really funny.

    We had a couple of groundhogs while on furlough. We moved into a house owned by people from our church who gave us a real bargain on the rental price. The house was inside a small city along the Mississippi River, high on a bluff with a view of the harbor and bridge. Even though there were neighboring houses, the bluff had some woods on it so we saw all kinds of interesting wildlife while we lived there, but our favorites were the ones we came to call "Nibbles" and "Waddles". 

    Our landlord had told us that there were groundhogs around. He pointed out an old tin skillet and an enamel pot under a tree and said we should put any leftover vegetables, lettuce cores, carrot peelings and the like in them and the groundhogs would come eat them. We had a ball taking our leftovers out there and then watching the antics of the two groundhogs that would come eat. Soon my 11 year old daughter named them, Nibbles and Waddles. 

    If we happened to come out onto the deck when they were out and we hadn't realized it, watching their loping toddle always brought a smile to our lips. 

    They were pretty cute when they sat on their haunches and held their food, biting, turning it, chewing...biting, turning it, chewing. 

    I told a friend about "our" groundhogs. She exclaimed, "You encourage groundhogs to come?" I had no idea they were unwanted, so I did some reading and discovered that if you have a garden, you don't want groundhogs, or if you have plants you don't want eaten, or a yard you don't want dug up. Oh well, we enjoyed Nibbles and Waddles and our landlord was the one who told us to feed them!

    Another reason I think we should celebrate is my third grandchild's birthday is on Groundhog Day making it very easy to remember because the date is 2/2. Why didn't they all get born on days like that? 3/3, 4/4, 5/5? 

    Assuming you don't have a birthday on the day, how would you celebrate Groundhog Day?

    Here are my suggestions:

    First, get the kids busy with a simple craft. You can use this as your centerpiece at dinner. You can find some ideas on Pinterest. I will be visiting my older grandchildren (the oldest of my 6 grandchildren is five, oh excuse me, five and a half) a couple days before Groundhog Day so I am hoping to do one of these with them.

    Next, figure out some food to go with groundhogs day. Groundhogs like roots and greens, so depending on how adventuresome your kids are you could fix some of those. Anything from carrot sticks and lettuce to turnips and brussel sprouts will do. And, although I think they look more like beavers, Pinterest has lots of dessert ideas. You can decide to go all out, or just stick a teddy graham in some pudding. The idea isn't to get all flustered about having a "Pinterest perfect" celebration, just to get together and have some fun.

    I have looked up some true/false facts about ground hogs and you can print them out and cut up the cards (or use printable business cards such as Avery® Business Cards 28878 Avery® Template 8371) and take turns asking each other questions at the dinner table. For my groundhog fact cards click here.

    Finally, if your kids are big enough--or maybe just for you and your hubby after they are in bed--the movie,  Groundhog Day, which doesn't have a whole lot to do with groundhogs, can be a fun way to end a groundhog day celebration and can even lead to a serious discussion. Ask your kids: 

    • How can we learn from our mistakes? 
    • How should we treat other people? 
    • What makes the changes in Phil? 
    • What can truly bring about changes (transformation) in the lives of people? 

    My motto is use any excuse to have fun with, learn, and connect with your family!

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    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Living By Faith

    I have a confession to make.

    Last week I talked about enjoying the seasons of life. I said God had given me a gift of being able to enjoy each season of life. As I reread my post, I realized how it sounded: 

    That's not what I meant. That's not how I wanted to come across. 

    First of all, if I find joy in each new phase of my life, I believe it is a gift from God and that says more about Him than it does about me.

    Secondly, I do struggle with living by faith, with seeing God at work in and through me in new, different, and sometimes unwanted circumstances.

    Right now I have a heartache. A mother's heartache. But I want to honor God in the midst of my pain. I want to honor Him by living by faith, walking by faith through this life. 

    I used to say I couldn't wait until I got to heaven and I could have my faith perfected and my worship undistracted. But not too long ago I came to realize that I can't live by faith in heaven. When I am in heaven I will live by sight, "we will see Him just as He is." (1 John 3:2)

    It is only here on earth that I can honor God by living by faith.

    I'm still working on how to figure that one out. 

    I know it involves knowing God, knowing His Word, obeying Him. But what I struggle with is trusting Him, trusting to the point of no longer being afraid. Afraid of the future, of life, of the what ifs, of the what if nots. Trust that believes that whatever God does, whatever God allows, is The Best Thing. I can say the words. I can quote Romans 8:28--in two languages! But do I live like I believe it?

    And when I pray, do I pray in faith, or do I pray wishes? How can I know the difference? 

    One day last month as I went about my necessary activities I had an ongoing conversation with God. Well, it was rather one-sided. Guess who was talking?

    Over and over I asked God, "How can I live by faith?" I told Him I wanted to. I wanted to honor Him in that way in my life, but I felt so distraught, so anxious, that I knew I wasn't. I tried telling Him all about my worries. I tried asking Him to work in and through them. I tried asking for Him to work in me. I even tried thanking Him for everything good and the hard times too. (See Philippians 4:6-7) But I didn't feel like I was living by faith. 

    So this is me being honest.

    I do have joy in this season of life. But I also have concerns. Concerns that I sometimes swaddle my thoughts in all day long. But I also have God. And I'm seeking Him. Looking to know Him. Longing to trust Him. Wanting to honor Him. Honor Him by living by faith.

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    Thursday, January 5, 2017

    Are You Enjoying This Season of Life

    When I was growing up, the only things I wanted to be "when I grew up" were a missionary, and if God allowed, a wife and mother. I worked toward being a missionary, assuming that no matter what, that was God's will, but I wasn't sure His plan included getting to be a wife and mother. That would be a bonus. During my teenage years I spent my summers on missions teams, I attended missionary conferences, and I met missionaries. I went to missionary prayer meetings. I gave to missions. Eventually, I went to Bible School, where I met a man who felt the same call of God. When God confirmed our relationship, He gave us an amazing love for each other.

    Eventually, God led us to Lima, Peru. I can still picture the street we were walking along there when we came to the conclusion that our Spanish studies and adjustment to our new country were moving forward, and we wanted to try to start a family. Ten months later we were parents of a son!

    I don't remember the moment we decided to try for a second child.

    That brought us into a season I refused to enjoy--secondary infertility. Every month was a disappointment when it became clear that no baby was on the way. Twice babies were there, but they died in my womb early in the pregnancy. I'm pretty sure having a second child was the only thing I could talk about. If I could do it over, even not knowing that one day I would have three more children and at least six grandchildren, I wish I could trust God more and learn to appreciate what He was doing in my life during that season. I do know that I enjoyed my little boy to the fullest and got to do things with him that later I could not do with the others because I was busier.

    God led us to adopt a little girl. Shortly after she joined our family, another son was born to us. Life was busy! Two babies eight months apart and a five year old. There were those days. There were those women who said things like, "Little children, little problems. Big children, big problems." And "Enjoy them now, these years go by so quickly."

    Eventually God moved us to Colombia and gave us another daughter. I loved my life there. It was full of opportunities to teach women and watch new believers grow in the Lord. The ministry was exciting and fulfilling. My kids were in school. There were those days when school was hard, the kids didn't understand, and the teachers didn't understand my kids.

    Health was always a struggle. Thyroid cancer followed by the onset of asthma took away my spark for quite a while.

    Life moved on. One child was about to leave home. That was so hard. I would wake up in the middle of the night with a panicked feeling that he was leaving and would never live under my roof again. God must have laughed at me because He sent us on furlough for a year, and my son lived with us during his junior year of college. We got to know and love his girlfriend who today is his wife and mother of their four children.

    A time of change in ministry came. My husband took on a whole new role. No longer were we missionaries together, but he was the International Coordinator of Emmaus Correspondence School. I had no idea what I would do. This was his work. It took me quite a while to find my place in our new local church.

    Health problems intruded again and I had four surgeries in two years before things were resolved.

    I was able to start working with the women's ministries in an administrative role. Something I never wanted to do, but God has given me joy in it, even though I still struggle to keep track of all the details. God has someone alongside me who picks up all the pieces I drop.

    With one child married, two away at college, one in high school, and my husband working at an office instead of out of the home, my life became different. Then the fourth one went to college and lived on campus, even though it was only a mile away. She was home, along with other family in town, for lunch every Sunday. Were we empty nesters?

    The middle two each moved back home for about a year and a half and I loved that. Then they got married and now I was a mother-in-law three times over.

    All of a sudden I became a grandmother. Wasn't I much too young for this? One, two, three, and then four grandchildren four hours away. One in town. One in Germany. Three of them arrived within six months of each other. It was a little overwhelming, and a lot of fun.

    Our youngest graduated from college, got a job, and got her own apartment in town. My season of life has become mom to adults, grandma, and daughter as all four of our parents are now living in the same town as us, ages 81 to 90.

    I work hard at church. I'm on four committees and the head of three of them. How did that happen? I don't like administration!

    ...But I feel like God has given me a gift. A gift of enjoying each season of life. I always feel like I enjoy this one more than any of the others, with the exception of my secondary infertility season.

    Still, if I could go back and ask that woman in her late twenties with all those little kids, she might say, "This is what I always wanted. This is the best time of life."

    If I could go talk to the woman with three teens and a tween? Well...even then I remember telling people that I had never given up anything to be a missionary. I had everything I wanted.

    If I could ask that woman with all those opportunities to teach other women, I know she would say it was a great time!

    If I could ask the woman moving to the states, a place she had to submit to God to come to, what would she say? She was sad that her life living in Colombia was done, but excited to see what God was going to do.

    If I could ask her six months later how she felt, she would have been amazed at the house God had given her, but still seeking what God wanted her to be involved in. That was a tough time, after 24 years of working closely beside my husband in ministry, now he had a fulltime "job" ministry and I was a fulltime stay at home wife and mother. But I reveled in the changing seasons of the year, each one was better than the last! Summer! Fall! Winter! Spring!

    Today, I'm so busy with so many things that I'm learning to love, yes, even administration. My family is my joy...there are heartaches, there are growing pains, but I'm asking God to let me trust Him and enjoy this season of life, too.

    How about you? Are you able to enjoy the season you are in now?

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